This took long enough! Initially this idea came from me wanting to setup a server out at the family farm so that I could take pictures through a telescope remotely. This would involve a waterproof building for the telescope with an automated retractable roof connected to the internet (what could go wrong). Part of a retractable roof would be knowing if it’s raining or if it’s cloudy or what have you. So I decided to start small and make a weather station. Here I am, almost, two years later and it’s working and pretty reliably. Thus I’m going to gander that the server in the woods is about 27 years away from being complete due to its increased level of difficulty. Without further ado, the weather station…
Nitty Gritty of Hardware
I found many people online doing similar things and it is NOT an original idea. This was a good exercise for a software engineer with nearly no hardware experience. The station runs off a little micro controller (computer) called the ESP8266. Its cool because it has wifi built in. I hooked a bunch of sensors up to it and have it push data to a server I somehow managed setup on Amazon Web Services (actually for a software guy, that part wasn’t hard). I figured this was cool and all. It’s got a neat graphical display for viewing data but I have to set up individual users – which I don’t want to do for our tens of subscribers to this blog. So it’s also posting to weather underground (links below). I’m including screenshots of everything to show off.
95% of all of this was done over a year ago so why is it just now complete? The battery. I’m not an electrical engineer and this project showed me how little I actually know about electricity. I got this fancy solar battery charger but every time I hooked it all up, results were inconsistent at best. Sometimes the station wouldn’t turn on, sometimes it would work for a few days, sometimes it would flash lights that I didn’t even know it had – frustrating. Finally I found that the battery I was using had some sort of regulator in it already so I cut it out, hooked everything back up, and it’s been running pretty well for a few days now with no sign of failure. Apparently my fancy charger doesn’t play nicely with the regulator on the battery.
So that’s it. This project is about over. I see that it may require maintenance from time to time but for now, I am successfully sending pointless data across the interwebs for anyone to view, as if just going to weather.com and putting in my zip code isn’t good enough. Benefit – if weather.com goes down, I can still whip my phone out and log into my personal server half way across the country instead of walking to a window to look outside.
Stupid Battery (I didn’t use this but it would work)
InfluxDB (time series database software)